Friday, September 26, 2008

Not sure what day it is

It's not quite jetlag, but my body does feel like the constant travelling over the last week (or maybe more) is pressing down on bits and parts that I've neglected over the last few months (or years, decades even). There was the three day train sprint, transcontinental, which was full of gorgeous scenery, interesting stories from co-train travellers, innumerable people watching (and judging), thinking, musing, and scratching. Ay, three days without a shower is enough to drive me crazy. I don't know how other people manage, but I did have to mentally work hard not to scream out in frustration over the lack of water. My kingdom for a shower!

But the glorious end of that test of endurance lay in the beautiful city of Portland. Perfect weather waited for me at the end of my three days, and while the city's denizens may contradict me, it was magical. Crisp, clean, blue skies, easy on the skin sun. We ate at friend's homes for two nights, otherwise I would have had more restaurant notes. But there's nothing like convivial eating and gathering over a home cooked meal, so no complaints from me. We did have a lovely day of sweets and wines, and the essence of the trip (Powells!) was never going to be skipped over. In this current state of grogginess, I won't attempt to do justice to my short Portland foray (I'll wait till I have a tipple of the lovely wine finds when I'm back!). Maybe I'll follow a friend's suggestion and make word cloud tees out of my love for the city (Erath, Argyle, August Cellar, St. Cupcake, Voodoo Donuts, Butter Bunny...).

I'm back in Sunny California for the rest of my stay. I will reunite with girlfriends who have married and moved here over the weekend, and by next week revisit one of my favorite gardens. There's a great deal of thinking left to do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Best flowchart out there

Thanks to a link from a friend, I found the Bacon Flowchart! For all my bacon loving friends (and you know who you are), remember wear pants when frying bacon.

Be still my gurgling

My stomach is upset. It gurgles, it roars, it screams. It's upset because it's owner has tried to taste as much of the neighborhood's treats all in one day. And it's not going to take anymore. From pupusas and horchatas, to local chilli, to fish and broccoli, and way too much dairy, add to it some local soul food, my stomach has had to suffer all that the upper end of the body has been tempted with. The eyes have seen and have been tempted by too much on offer. The mouth opens to accept the temptations once they have been purchased and plated, with help by the hand to raise it to the mouth. And as the brain analyzes each taste and tingle, the stomach is forced to process all of it. It's not happy. I send mental apologies to it, and sip on hot water. I promise not to put it through that again (or at least not for a few days).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On the road

I've arrived in DC and am settling into my friend's guest room, overlooking a lovely park in the northern part of town. On the fringes of Adams Morgan, the weather a crisp and pleasant reminder that fall is on its way, and the full moon pulling out one's inner werewolf.

I've been on the road/tracks for a week, have been to Chicago, Bloomington (Indiana) and now DC. The days have been full of architecture, history, weather, chinese language (more on that another time), and food, just to name a few. I've never spent a lot of time in the mid-west, but can imagine myself spending more time in Chicago if given the chance. Villages within the city make life seem far more intimate; lots of color from all the immigrants that have made the city's history rich and vibrant. A city of spires, both religious and secular. The latter centers around the downtown, where skyscrapers compete for attention, new ones on their way.

My first experience waiting out a tornado warning, as the sirens wailed outside, we sat in the basement of my friend S' house, nibbling on cheese, olives, crackers, and drinking cava. We skyped with her in-laws who said "you should leave that place! how can you live in a town with tornados?", while the baby scampered around, not really caring that a possibly disaster approached. The rest of the weekend was a bit rainy and cloudy, the damage of the approaching hurricane (Ike) which roared through Texas only apparent after I left Bloomington to head back to Chicago. Since Bloomington is a campus town, there was little to do other than to make one's own entertainment. Thankfully, trying to keep up with a two year old is enough to keep all the adults on their toes. We feasted when she slept, and there's nothing like ingenuity to satiate our bellies; not a bad way to spend the time, making aoili for steamed artichokes, tossing together a chinese style fried rice, cobbling together pumpkin risotto, serving a full jewish breakfast of bagels, lox, eggs, and an assortment of drinks, and capping the weekend with a steak, grilling even in the face of stormy weather.

So far in DC, we've dined on Belgian style bistro food and picked up creamy frozen custard. Looking good so far.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Chugging along on the train tracks

Jetlag is over after a 7 hour straight snooze (on the smaller sofa I discovered after waking up curled, fetal position, in my day clothes, horrors!, but pretty comfortable in any case). My friends are about to bid me onwards as I take my first leg of the train trip east, up to Chicago (unless I am swayed by the sight of the Grand Canyon at the stop in Arizona), and after a few days there, to see good friends at Indiana U. Next week will find me in DC, then back on the train west to Portland for donuts and wine and Powell's (my definition of Nirvana). But let's not jump the gun, as it's been a relatively relaxing few days in the city of Angels. Had good meals: Mexican breakfasts (chilaquiles and horchatas), Thai noodles for midnight dinners, Hawaiian breakfasts of pancakes plus portugese sausages, japanese ramen, pizza, and an ube shake with pulled pork at the Oinkster (thanks M and B!). I also treated friends to a whole grilled fish at the San Pedro Port O'Call, watching the seabirds attempt to snatch at the overly buttered garlic breads (or perhaps I should call them loaves since these were not a slice or two of white bread, nope, these were 18 inch mammoth loaves slathered in butter and garlic. Those birds better have their cholesterols checked.).
Thanks to R, I've finally gotten to see Olivera St., and we caught Wicked at the Pantages. Has it only been 4 days?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pardon me, I need to puke

Two back to back news items make me want to scream - the Intramuros Development Administration cut down over 20 full grown trees in a park in Manila. All that's left are stumps, with numbers callously scrawled in red ink. DENR will sue them under RA 933, a Marcos era law that states anyone who is found guilty of cutting down trees in parks and other national spaces can be sent to jail for 6 months. I say that's not enough of a punishment. All of those idiots who are in charge of that office should be made to recycle all the biodegradable garbage in the city of Manila for one year, and plant 100 trees for each stump they left behind. If any of the trees planted die, they'll have to plant 50 more.

The second piece made me feel even worse. A Vietnamese fishing boat was caught with what looked like 100 pawikan (sea turtle) carcasses. Full grown adult turtles, they won't be around to grace our reefs. The environmentalist interviewed said he felt bad. I felt sick to my stomach.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Balut diplomacy

At a food event yesterday afternoon, I think there was headway made in making balut less of a fear food! A visitor from S. Asia was treated to a fresh 18 day balut, and she ate most of it! So kudos to her! And to all you folks out there still afeered of the duck egg, I say to you: qvack.

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies